Academic Host - University and School

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education is a nonsectarian, coeducational, state-related, public research university. Founded in a log cabin near the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers in 1787, it is the oldest institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains and has grown to international prominence.

The University of Pittsburgh is the most comprehensive educational complex in the tri-state area, enrolling about 34,000 students, and employing approximately 12,000 faculty members and staff. Pitt is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization comprised of eminent North American research institutions.

As an international institution with strong local roots, Pitt fulfills a three-pronged mission of education, research, and public service. With its 132-acre main campus located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, it also serves western Pennsylvania with regional campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville. Among the more than 90 academic, research, and administrative buildings and residence halls located at the main campus is the 42-story Cathedral of Learning, which is one of the tallest academic buildings in the world.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has achieved international prominence through pioneering efforts in human organ transplantation, including heart, liver, and kidney transplantation. The University’s Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health have all attained national and international recognition, as have the Swanson School of Engineering, the Katz Graduate School of Business, Graduate School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and the School of Information Sciences. In addition, Pitt researchers have made substantial contributions to such diverse fields as anthropology, astronomy, computer science, bioengineering, psychology, and numerous other disciplines. Research activities are conducted at the University in its schools and in its 200 centers, institutes, laboratories, and clinics.

Numerous cultural and athletic events are sponsored by the University each year and are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of area residents, including musical and theatrical presentations, as well as 18 athletic programs. As of 2008, the University had 29 libraries and special collections housing over 5 million volumes, 4.4 million pieces of microforms, nearly 25,000 subscriptions, and approximately 8,100 electronic journals, making the University Library System one of the leading facilities of its kind in the nation.

Swanson School of Engineering

Since 1846, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has been home to innovative processes and designs that have shaped our state, our country, and our world, both in the past and today.

The school continues its founding commitment to industrial, electrical, and mining engineering, the fields the world relies on for its energy and raw materials. The Swanson School also focuses on our health, our planet, and the ingenuity that keeps us competitive with recognized programs in bioengineering, sustainability, nanoscience and engineering, energy, manufacturing, and product innovation.

Our students explore the molecular world of nanoscience, and the multinational world market with programs based in South America, Europe, and Asia. The Swanson School of Engineering provides hands-on education in these areas, preparing engineering graduates through actual experience to enter exciting careers in advanced research and industry. Students find their place in the workforce through our established co-op program and working partnerships with engineering’s top companies. Our faculty and staff represent countries around the world and are internationally recognized for providing excellent educational programs, for conducting cutting edge research, and for creating the partnerships that shape the industry.

The mission of the Swanson School of Engineering is to produce highly qualified engineers and useful creative research and technology through academic excellence. The faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering are recognized for providing excellent educational programs, for conducting leading edge research, and for creating innovative industrial partnerships.

The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering has a long and distinguished history. The earliest engineering courses at Pitt were established in response to the growth of Western Pennsylvania during the early industrial revolution, with the first degrees of “Engineer” awarded in 1846, thereby establishing Pitt as one of the nation’s sixth earliest engineering programs.

The involvement of Pittsburgh industry in the years surrounding the Civil War transformed a regional industrial base into one with strong international significance, and the University responded to the need. In 1868, specialized degrees in Civil and Mechanical Engineering were initiated, with Mining Engineering following in 1869, and Electrical Engineering in 1890. In 1909, the Department of Metallurgical Engineering was established, followed by the Department of Chemical Engineering and the world’s first Department of Petroleum Engineering in 1910. Also in that year, the school created one of the nation’s first undergraduate Cooperative Education Programs. Pitt Engineering’s tradition of innovative programming resulted in the establishment of one of the nation’s first Industrial Engineering Departments in 1921. Our latest department, Bioengineering, was established in 1998.

Among the many prominent individuals associated with the early history of the school were Samuel Pierpont Langley and Reginald A. Fessenden. Langley, who is credited with developing the engineering science of aerodynamics during his 24 years at Pitt, designed the first heavier-than-air craft capable of flight and greatly influenced the Wright Brothers. Fessenden, brought to Pittsburgh by George Westinghouse as the first electrical engineering department head, obtained more than 300 patents. Through his pioneering studies with voice transmission, he is now credited with being the “Father of Radio” and made the first broadcast of the human voice in 1906.

In 2007, the school became the Swanson School of Engineering after an historic event: John A. Swanson (PhD ’66) made the largest individual philanthropic commitment in the history of the University of Pittsburgh. As a result of his remarkable generosity, which now exceeds $41 million, the Board of Trustees presented a formal resolution on February 29, 2008, announcing the changing of the school’s name to the John A. Swanson School of Engineering.

Currently, the Swanson School is embarking on the $100 million Benedum Hall Transformation Plan, which includes a complete renovation of lab, classroom, and office space in Benedum Hall and the addition of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, a three-story building that connects Benedum Hall across the plaza to the auditorium.

University logo

University of Pittsburgh








Page last modified March 1, 2012